The Salvation Army is heavily involved in providing food and psychosocial support in Christchurch, starting the day with a large complement of local and reinforcement staff from around New Zealand. The main focus is on providing food and psychosocial support.
Salvation Army buildings around Christchurch sustained substantial damage in the quake. The Salvation Army’s earthquake response team is working out of a temporary location at Sydenham Corps (church). Salvation Army IT staff have arrived on site, travelling overnight from Wellington, and are now setting up computer and phone networks.
Salvation Army church members in Christchurch are mainly involved in the feeding programme. Emergency services coordinator Major Rex Cross says, ‘The Salvation Army was up and running almost instantly. We are thrilled with the local response and realise that it’s going to be a lot harder and longer this time.’ Those on breakfast duty at Cowles Stadium were about to start serving when they engineers told them that the building might be in a condemned state. They moved outside and served breakfast there.
Reinforcement personnel are boosting the psychosocial team that was already established as part of the ongoing recovery work from the September 2010 earthquake. The Salvation Army has been asked to provide up to 40 staff to accompany assessment teams (one Salvationist per team) that will travel through affected areas. Salvationists have been asked to assess social and welfare needs.
Those on the ground report that the situation in Christchurch remains chaotic. They are raising concerns about needs in outer Christchurch suburbs that are not yet well understood.
Commissioners Don Bell will visit Christchurch on Sunday.
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